The shadow of Frank Lloyd Wright may be long and heavy, but it's still generous enough to allow his students to shine in their own right. His son's designs command multimillion-dollar asking prices, and his Taliesin School apprentices haven't done too bad for themselves, either. Recently, the owner of a home by Wright senior apprentice Edgar Tafel filled out one of Apartment Therapy's open house surveys (Inspiration: "Clean. Honest. Organic."; Biggest Indulgence: "the house itself"), and sent it in with a sizable cache of flattering photos. With a preservationist's mindset and a style "firmly in the Danish modern aesthetic," Joshua Drew has coaxed a surplus of warm, midcentury goodness from his 1949 home. Here's how he made it happen.
Designed for Louis H. Hamilton, advertising manager of the home appliance giant formerly known as the Hamilton Beach Manufacturing Company, the 2,700-square-foot L.H. Hamilton House was built near the company's headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin (which just so happens to be the site of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed S.C. Johnson HQ). It was designed in the style of an Usonian House, the series of small, single-story homes Wright designed starting in 1936 with the aim of creating homes more accessible to middle-income families, but with a few differences: there's no radiant floor heating, concrete floors, or carport; in place of them, it's got central heating and air conditioning, wall-to-wall carpeting, and a two-car garage, as well as a basement.
As with most Usonians, the windows are grouped on the private side of the home, and the street side is lit by clerestories (Biggest Challenge: "Window washing. Really. There are 71 windows in the house."). A few Wrightean standbys are clearly visible—the abundant wood trim, the flat roof, and the space-saving built-in furniture—and in instances where the original features of the home were changed by the time Drew bought it in 2010, he went to some pretty commendable lengths to recreate them.
As Drew tells it, this involved turning his home into a bit of an archeological dig. He found a small remnant of the original linoleum tile under the dishwasher, along with an original scrap of the "chocolate colored boiled wool" that was turned up under a piece of trim being repaired, and found modern replacements for both. His biggest piece of advice? "Buy the best designs you can afford, and use them proudly," which he's clearly taken to heart, bringing in an Eames lounger in the living room, a Saarinen Womb Chair in the den, and plenty of Danish modern pieces to boot. Get thee to Apartment Therapy for further details, as well as a thorough explanation on the "compress and release" effect as it plays out in the entryway.
· Joshua's Usonian Retreat: The L.H. Hamilton House [Apartment Therapy]
· Creations from Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin Apprentices [Curbed National]